I want to welcome Sharon Donovan to Books R Us. Sharon is the author of Mask of The Betrayer. She is presently touring the blogosphere on her first virtual book tour with Pump Up Your Book! Thanks for stopping by.
Ten Little Unknown Facts About Cleopatra
Although Hollywood movies have portrayed the Egyptian queen Cleopatra as a mystic beauty, more than likely, the legendary queen has been glamorized. Here are ten facts that may surprise you:
1. Cleopatra may have had a hook nose and masculine features
2. Cleopatra was born in 69 BC and reigned for twenty-one years from 51 BC to 30 BC
3. Cleopatra died in 30 BC and was only thirty-nine years old at the time of her demise
4. Cleopatra committed suicide using the asp an Egyptian snake for the purpose
5. Cleopatra VII was the last Egyptian queen and following her death, Egypt became a Roman province
6. Cleopatra had four children
7. Cleopatra was not an Egyptian; rather a Macedonian Greek
8. Cleopatra could speak nine languages quite fluintly
9. Cleopatra was highly intelligent, charming, and had amazing powers of persuasion
10. Cleopatra was the wife of Julius Caesar, the mistress of Mark Antony, and probably the wife of a few of her own brothers
Why the fascination with Cleopatra? Here is something you may not know about me. One of my favorite passions is collecting Mardi Gras masks and face masks. I have a full collection of them including The Sophisticated Lady, The Jolly Jester with jeweled tears and Cleopatra. Gracing the wall above my computer, they inspire me to write my suspense stories. Many are featured in my latest suspense Mask of the Betrayer. Here is an excerpt from Mask of the Betrayer when Valentino asks Cleopatra for a dance at the masquerade ball. Someone is about to get murdered. Let’s take a look:
Michael worked the room, mingling with several politicians and celebrities of the Vegas Strip. The charm rolled off his tongue in spades. Party or not, he never missed an opportunity to control and manipulate. Rolling out the red carpet for his competitors and associates kept him on the cutting edge of success. Whether it was feigning interest in a political race or a game of golf at Red Rock Country Club, he found their Achilles heel and used it for all it was worth. And it never took long to find a person’s weak spot—and use it for his own gain.
“May I have this dance?” Michael approached Eve Carlton, portraying Cleopatra in a shimmering bronze dress, raven-black wig, and impressive vulture headdress. You do the Egyptian queen justice,” Michael whispered in her ear. “But getting straight to the point, I wanted a moment alone with you to tell you how sorry I am about your club going bankrupt. The way I hear it, you have less than six weeks to come up with the money. That’s most unfortunate.”
“You have no idea how hard this is on me,” Eve said, mortified word had gotten out about her financial woes. But she shouldn’t be surprised. Nothing went on in Vegas that Michael DeVeccio wasn’t aware of. Sighing heavily, she said, “If only there were something I could do to come up with the cash.”
“Perhaps I can help,” Michael expertly dipped her. “I’ll be willing to lend you the money, with substantial interest, of course. And it goes without saying, should I ever need a favor, all interest fees would be dropped.”
“Oh, Michael,” Eve said. “I’d be forever grateful.”
“Not at all,” he kissed her cheek. “Thank you for the dance. Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to rescue my fiance from my cousin. Come and see me sometime next week and we’ll arrange the finances. And Eve, don’t worry about a thing. Just leave it all up to me.”
“All right, Johnny,” Michael tapped The Phantom on the back. “That’s enough dancing with my girl. I’m cutting in.”
A real ladies’ man, Johnny O’Toole kissed Margot before letting her go. “Thanks for the dance. I’m gonna go cut the rug with my mother over there. But I’ll be back. Save another dance for me, you sexy thing.”
With moves Valentino himself would envy, Michael glided Margot along the glossy cherry floors of the ballroom, holding her close in his arms. “You are the most beautiful woman here tonight. And I must say-- you certainly made quite an impression on my cousins. I’ll take you over to meet my Aunt Monica in a little bit. Right now, she’s dancing with Johnny.”
Margot glanced across the room at the woman portraying Mae West. Her hot pink satin dress was bathed in black lace, and she wore a fashionable hat, topped off with a side ostrich feather. “Your aunt certainly is built. Or is that dress deceiving? She must take care of herself.”
Michael tipped his hat to his aunt. “That’s all Aunt Monica. And she takes very good care of herself. She has the best of spas to keep her young, trendy clothes, younger men, and all that O’Toole fortune at her disposal. Aunt Monica always did have a way of landing on her feet.”
The dance floor vibrated with footsteps as guests glided, clomped, and stomped across it. The Joker hopped around, laughing like a fool. The Deranged Clown grabbed Margot for a spin around the floor. Dressed in black and white checks and a black mask, An Evil Jester rubbed up against the Smoldering Temptress, whispering crude suggestions in her ear. Covered in voodoo pins from head to toe, the Voodoo Doll danced alone.
But it was Zorro who turned heads from the moment she’d sashayed into the ballroom. Drop dead gorgeous in a crimson body suit and long flowing cape, she had the attention of every male in the ballroom. Her long platinum hair billowed around her voluptuous body and red feather mask. Sheathed in a crimson scaled scabbard, her Zorro sword rested on her left thigh.
The men all stared. The Mysterious Stranger in a black cape swept Zorro away with the moves of a ballroom dancer, looking for all the world like her long lost lover. But as soon as the song ended, another masked guest asked Zorro to dance, and before long, she’d danced with nearly every man at the party.
“Michael,” Margot whispered in his ear. “Everyone is captivated by Zorro. Do you know who she is?”
Michael watched Zorro glide across the ballroom floor with Jack the Ripper. Chic and elegant with the legs of a dancer, she danced the night away, her patent leather heels never touching the ground. A crimson rose pendant graced her long, elegant neck. Michael knew precisely who she was. He’d given her the rose necklace on their wedding night. Taking one final look at Zorro, he pulled Margot into a tight embrace. After kissing her, he whispered in her ear. “I have no idea who she is. I only have eyes for you. You are the perfect woman.”
The storm that had been brewing all day broke just as the bell tower tolled. Eleven piercing chimes rang out simultaneously with the rumbling of thunder. Winds from the Desert hurled in through open terrace doors, blowing out the cinnamon-scented candelabras in the ballroom. Pellets of cold hard rain pounded helter skelter on the windows. The crystal chandelier swayed back and forth like a pendulum. It flickered once, then twice. And then all went dark.
Sharon Donovan lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with her family. Prior to the loss of her vision, she was a legal secretary for the Court of Common Pleas where she prepared cases for judges in Domestic Relations. Painting was her passion. When she could no longer paint, she began attending creative writing classes and memoir workshops. After a long and winding road, a new dream arose. Today, instead of painting her pictures on canvas, Sharon paints her pictures with words.
Sharon writes stories of inspiration and suspense. She has certificates in business and medical transcription. She is a published author with The Wild Rose Press, White Rose Publishing, Whimsical Publications and Chicken Soup for the Soul. Echo of a Raven received a CTRR award for outstanding writing, and The Claddagh Ring is a 2009 CAPA nominee. To read excerpts and reviews of Sharon’s books and to sign up for her newsletter, visit her website at www.sharonadonovan.com.
Mask of the Betrayer is Sharon’s latest book.
Please visit Sharon's website and check back on 8/24 for my review